Academic journal article The Sport Journal

Economic Impact of Equestrians on Aiken, South Carolina

Academic journal article The Sport Journal

Economic Impact of Equestrians on Aiken, South Carolina

Article excerpt

Introduction

The equestrians have played a critical role in the growth and development of the Aiken County economy. Besides the local economy, the equestrian migration from the north effected Aiken's culture and businesses. Just like any other equestrian group, the Aiken equestrians are fragmented with numerous groups, associations, and stakeholders. All of them have different interests and goals. The goal of this paper is to define the Aiken County equestrian industry and to define its economic impact on Aiken County's economy. In order to determine the nature and scope of the local equestrian industry, an equestrian survey was designed and conducted. The survey was aimed at the equestrian enthusiasts who live and work in Aiken and Aiken County. The data obtained from this survey was utilized to provide descriptive and normative analysis of the equestrian industry and its economic profile and impact.

Equestrian Activities in Aiken County

The equestrian population, activities, and events are constantly growing in Aiken, South Carolina. The equestrian activities consist of many different events such as polo, horse racing, horse showing, carriage driving, and fox hunting, to name a few. In order to define and analyze a complex sector such as the equestrian one, an equestrian survey was conducted. The purpose of this survey was to highlight a set of equine-related activities that are present in Aiken. The survey was distributed to randomly selected individuals considered to be horse owners and/or enthusiasts. An electronic version of the survey was sent to several different equestrian associations with an appeal to share the survey with their members. Furthermore, hard copies of the survey were placed at different locations in Aiken and 20% of the participants returned their responses. The survey had eight sections with questions related to equine activities, inventory, labor and capital expenses, equine expenses, gross receipts, tourism related activities, and general information.

The first survey question asked participants to define their equestrian activities in the past 12 months while specifically determining the number of days spent in Aiken versus the number of days spent in other counties in South Carolina and elsewhere. Figure 1 illustrates participants' responses to the first question. The obtained data suggests that a majority of the equestrian activities are pleasure related (48%), followed by competition (21%), breeding (18%), and racing (13%). Individuals whose equestrian activities consist of pleasure riding and breeding spend more than 50% of their time in Aiken, while racing and competition account for one-third of responders' time spent in Aiken. Responses indicate that the states of Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Wyoming are "other locations" where "local" equestrian enthusiasts spend their time.

When asked to define more specific activities within major categories, 17% and 21% of participants report that they enjoy fox hunting and polo, respectively. According to the survey results, the polo activists spend more than 55% of their time in Aiken, versus 45% for fox hunting enthusiasts. Fourteen percent of the survey participants indicate that trial riding (both English and Western) is their preferred equestrian activity in Aiken. These particular equestrian individuals spend about 30% of their time in Aiken and the other 70% outside of South Carolina. Eight percent of the participants report dressage as their main equestrian activity with 44% of their time spent in Aiken. Five percent consider driving as their leading discipline with 35% of their time in Aiken and 65% outside of South Carolina. Nineteen percent of the respondents are jumper and/or hunter enthusiasts with 47% of their time spent in Aiken. Four percent of participants select lessons, training, and fundraising as their dominant equestrian activity with 43% of their time spent in Aiken. Figure 2 illustrates different types of equestrian activities conducted in Aiken. …

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